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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

Rain, holiday, Diwali on voters’ mind; candidates worry about turnout

cities Updated: Oct 20, 2019 19:59 IST

Hindustantimes
         

PUNE It will be a challenge before the civic administration and political parties to bring residents out to vote today (Monday) as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted rains in the second half of the day. The voting activity picks up in the second half of the day, according to past records.

According to IMD, there is likely to be a thunderstorm, lightning along with gusty wind rainfall activity for Pune, Satara, Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Solapur districts on Monday which is the voting day.

On Sunday, Pune along with Satara and Kolhapur received heavy rainfall, creating difficulties for many who were part of a massive exercise to shift electronic voting machines (EVMs) to polling booths.

“To tackle rains we have erected 283 shelters where staff can stay on the night before elections,” said Naval Kishore Ram, Pune district collector.

The election commission has also kept teams ready on alert mode specifically in flood-affected areas of Indapur, Baramati, Maval and Bhor constituencies. “We have instructed zilla parishad chief executive officers (CEO) to take precautionary measures accordingly,” said Ram.

Contestants and political parties have asked their cadre to ensure maximum polling in the first half of the day given the possible rain and a holiday, which push many to go out for shopping with Diwali around the corner.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate from Shivajinagar constituency Siddharth Shirole said, “We have written a letter to Pune district collector appealing to provide maximum autorickshaws in the city so that residents can come for voting at the polling booths. We have informed all our party workers to be alert and helpful to the public to reach the polling booths.”

Ajay Shinde, Maharashtra Navnirma Sena (MNS) candidate from Kasba peth constituency, said, “First it needs to be checked that whether it is allowed for any candidate to provide any kind of facility to voters to bring them to polling booth as the model code of conduct is in place. We can only pray to God to keep away rains tomorrow (Monday) as people can come to the voting stations.”

NCP spokesperson Ankush Kakade said the party has instructed workers to ensure voters are not inconvenienced on the polling day either due to rain or traffic. “Rain is indeed a worry for us but, we have asked our workers to minimise the inconvenience to voters and ensure higher turnout as compared to 2014,” said Kakade.

During 2014 assembly polls, the city’s voter turnout was 56 per cent.